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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2013

Officials hold public meeting for peek at upcoming I-75 projects including new roundabouts in Thousand Islands intersection

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Street and highway officials held a public meeting tonight that gave community members a peek at upcoming projects, including the possibility of roundabouts installed in the Thousand Islands intersections to ease traffic congestion in the high-accident area.

"It's an excellent idea. I'm all for that," said Tom Cook, who lives near the Phillips Avenue interchange on I-75, and was one of several dozen who heard brief presentations from three public agencies during a city traffic-planning meeting tonight at Rosa Parks Elementary School. The residents also were able to peruse exhibits about about what the future may hold for city streets near the I-75 interchanges at Jeep and Willys parkways, Berdan Avenue, and Phillips Avenue.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's plans are firm, if not yet scheduled: the two Berdan ramps will close and Jeep/Willys access to I-475 will be eliminated during an upcoming, $160 million I-75 reconstruction and widening between I-475 and Phillips. Managing traffic diverted to the Phillips interchange by the ramp closings is one key to the city's planning.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, meanwhile, plans to break ground this spring on the first new roadway and "spec" warehouse on 111 acres of the former Jeep assembly plant that it wants to redevelop as the Overland Industrial Park.

Still to be decided is the Toledo Division of Engineering Services' plan to manage shifting traffic patterns caused by those projects -- and that was the point of today's meeting.

"We can work together as a team and try to figure out what we're going to do," David Dysard, the administrator of public service at the engineering services division.

The Thousand Islands intersections, where Cherry Street, Collingwood and Manhattan boulevards, and Detroit and Berdan avenues cross or connect, are among the most confusing parts of Toledo's streets network.

Andrew Langenderfer, a senior project manager with Tetra Tech, said converting one or more of those intersections to roundabouts should cut vehicle speeds, reduce serious accidents, and provide locations in the center islands for statues or other public displays.

"When we do an improvement, there's a great opportunity to make it look nice, to make it a gateway to the community," said Mr. Langenderfer, whose company is consulting for the city.

Mr. Langenderfer said Tetra Tech plans to hold another public meeting in April to present proposals based on its study of the area, including community input.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

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